Research at Quincy Bioscience
Every seven seconds in the United States another member of the baby boom generation turns 65. As the baby boomer population has moved through the various stages of their lives they have been responsible for significant societal changes. Not surprisingly, as the baby boomer generation has gotten older, they have become increasingly concerned about healthy aging and diminishing the changes that are often thought to occur with advancing age.
As individuals age, they may experience a decline in their cognitive abilities, which is thought to be a normal part of the aging process. Everyday memory challenges such as forgetting where you put your car keys or the inability to recall items on a grocery list highlight diminishing cognitive abilities, which is the aspect of growing older that many people fear most as experiencing normal cognitive function is central to their quality of life.
The experts at Quincy Bioscience conduct research as well as partner with academic laboratories and research institutions to look for innovative strategies to protect and preserve memory and other cognitive functions.
Madison Memory Study
The study protocol builds upon the evidence in previous pilot studies which demonstrated the patented protein apoaequorin improved memory as measured by participant reported outcomes. The technology which MMS uses to measure cognitive changes in participants is a computer based assessment using software developed by CogState Ltd., a global provider of cognitive testing products and services. Participants were tested at baseline and then re-assessed four more times during the three month period.
What Was Tested in the Madison Memory Study
Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that together help a person achieve goals. Executive function refers to a set of mental skills that are coordinated in the frontal lobe of an individual. Executive function includes the ability to:
- manage time and attention
- switch focus
- plan and organize
- remember details
- curb inappropriate speech or behavior
- integrate past experience with present action
When executive function breaks down or is reduced, certain complex behaviors become poorly controlled. . This can affect an person’s ability to:
- work or go to school
- function independently
- ability to execute tasks
- maintain appropriate social relationships
Working memory refers to the temporary storage and manipulation of information necessary for cognitive tasks such as language comprehension, learning, and reasoning. Working memory involves the simultaneous storage and processing of information, and allows an individual to stay focused on a task longer and keep more things in mind while approaching a task.
Short-term memory is another way of thinking about working memory. You use working memory when you participate in group discussions, execute plans, organize materials and activities, and manage important financial activities. Working memory is the active part of your memory system. As information comes in, you are processing it at the same time as you store it.
Indicators that working memory is failing include forgetfulness, distractibility, losing track of the topic in a conversation, and misplacing things like glasses, mobile phone, etc.
Visual Working Memory
Visual working memory is the ability to envision something, to keep it in your “mind’s eye.” Visual working memory can also be thought of as the ability to hold visual stimuli in the mind for a period of time.
Verbal Learning is typically associated with the memorization and retention of lists of words. Verbal learning tends to involve more than just the memorization of words. It refers to the ability to learn information through spoken word.
Verbal Working Memory
Verbal working memory is the ability to keep verbal instructions in mind while working with them.
Attention is essential for most learning and memory. Whatever people pay attention to (mentally) moves into working memory. Information that does not meet the attention threshold typically disappears from the memory system. Attention involves directing not only the appropriate sensory receptors (in the eyes, ears, fingertips, etc.) but also the mind toward whatever needs to be learned and remembered. Attention has a limited capacity, and only a small amount of information moves on to working memory, and from there a smaller amount moves to be encoded in long-term memory.
CogState is a neuropsychological battery of computerized cognitive tests that are adaptation of standard neuropsychological tests. CogState’s tests (or tasks) assess a range of cognitive functions, including executive function, spatial problem solving, psychomotor speed, attention, working memory, immediate and delayed and verbal/visual learning. The tasks are a combination of card games, mazes, and lists of common items. Practice sessions are presented before each task in sufficient number to ensure that the participant is aware of the rules for each task.
The CogState battery of tasks was designed to have a relatively short administration time (< 30 minutes depending on the tasks selected) and to permit repeated assessment with minimal practice effects. The CogState battery is widely used and has demonstrated validity in assessing cognitive function in a variety of neurological disease states including Mild Cognitive Impairment.
International Shopping List Task (Learning and Delayed Recall)
The International Shopping List Task is a 12 word, four trial (three learning trials and one recall trial) verbal list learning test. The International Shopping List Test measures neurocognitive function in the area of verbal learning, memory, and immediate and delayed recall.
The ISLT has been shown to have good sensitivity to verbal memory impairment. This and others showed that verbal memory was better in individuals without any cognitive deficit than in individuals with MCI. Subjects were tested at various points during the Madison Memory Study. During each assessment, a list of words was chosen at random by the CogState computer software. The order of items remained consistent across all three learning trials.
Participants were instructed to try to remember as many items on the shopping list as possible. During each learning trial, the computer presented one word every two seconds. The testing proctor read each item as they appeared on the computer screen, which was never visible to the participant. Once all 12 words were presented, the participant was instructed to recall as many words as possible. The list of words appeared on the screen and the proctor checked each word as it was said by the participant. If the participant repeated a word, it was checked again. If the participant said a word that was not on the list another box was checked. When the participant indicated that no more items could be remembered the trial was stopped. The learning task was repeated two more times.
For the International Shopping List Recall Task, participants were asked to recall as many items as possible from the initial list after a delay of approximately 30 minutes. During this delay, other cognitive tests are administered. The number of words correctly recalled after this delay were recorded by the test proctor.
The Groton Maze Learning Task is a measure of immediate and short-term memory for visuospatial information and processing speed. The GMLT is also used as a measure of spatial learning and error monitoring. The participant is shown a grid consisting of a 10 x 10 grid of tiles on a computer screen. Hidden within the grid is a 28-step pathway. To complete the test, participants must follow the hidden pathway through the grid from the top left hand corner to the lower right hand corner. The participant does this by clicking on a particular tile with the computer mouse. The participant is informed of correct or incorrect moves with a particular visual stimulus. A correct move reveals a green check. An incorrect move causes a red cross to appear in the tile. Two different types of incorrect moves are possible. The first relates to selecting a tile that is not part of the hidden pathway. The second category of incorrect moves occurs when participants break a rule. There are two rules. Participants should not move backwards to the previous correct spot. The other rule is that diagonal moves are not permitted.
Participants must return to the last correct tile after any error before continuing to proceed on the hidden pathway. Two different types of errors are recorded. Either the selection of an incorrect tile, which is not part of the hidden pathway. These errors are due either to chance (on the first learning trial) or misremembering the pathway (on subsequent learning trials or during the recall portion of the task. Each participant completes five learning trials. Each trial is timed.
The Groton Maze Recall Test measures the participants’ ability to remember the pathway they had previously uncovered earlier during the learning part of the Groton Maze testing.
One Card Learning
The One Card Learning Task is a measure of Visual Learning and Memory. A playing card is uncovered in the center of the screen. As soon as it is uncovered, participants must indicate whether they have seen the care before in this task. Visual and auditory feedback is provided. If the answer is incorrect, the card goes off to the left and an error noise is provided.
Two Cards Back
The Two Card Back Task is a measure of Visual Working Memory. Participants are required to decide whether a new card presented in the center of the screen for two seconds is the same or different from the card that was presented two cards earlier..The participant selected either a Yes or No key. Visual and Auditory feedback are provided.
Prevagen contains the patented ingredient apoaequorin which has been shown to help improve memory in clinical studies. Apoaequorin is a protein that was originally discovered in jellyfish and now produced at our cGMP compliant and NSF certified facility in Wisconsin.
Safety studies conducted on the toxicity and allergenicity of apoaequorin show that apoaequorin is safe. In rats following subchronic administration of amounts up to 666.7mg per kilogram of body weight per day Apoaequorin preparation did not result in any mortality.1 This was the maximum dosage that was tested. Researchers concluded,
“The administration of the Apoaequorin preparation did not result in any mortality. There were no further clinical or opthalmological signs, body weight, body weight gain, food consumption, food efficiency, clinical pathology, or histopathological changes attributable to administration of Apoaequorin.”2
Dosing in the study was the equivalent of 4,000 times the recommended daily amount of Prevagen 10mg and 2,000 times the recommended daily amount of Prevagen Extra Strength 20mg. In addition, apoaequorin achieved self-affirmed GRAS status (generally recognized as safe) after an independent panel of expert scientists concluded that apoaequorin is safe for use in food products.
1. Marone, P.A., Bauter, M., Hofman-Hüther, H., and Moran, D. (2013). Safety assessment of Apoaequorin, a protein preparation: Subchronic toxicity study in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology 57.
2. Marone, P.A., Bauter, M., Hofman-Hüther, H., and Moran, D. (2013). Toxicologic Evaluation of the Calcium Binding Protein Apoaequorin. Poster presented at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas.